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Brothers v. Warrior Energy Services, Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

April 11, 2017

RON BROTHERS, ET AL.
v.
WARRIOR ENERGY SERVICES, CORPORATION D/B/A SPC RENTALS

          HAYES, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, Jr., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Warrior Energy Services, Corporation d/b/a SPC Rentals' (“SPC Rentals”) Motion for Partial Dismissal Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Record Document 4. Plaintiffs have opposed the motion. See Record Document 8. For the reasons set forth below, SPC Rentals' Motion for Partial Dismissal Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (Record Document 4) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Ron Brothers, Kalen Hein, Elijah Hill, Wesley A. Moore, Willie E. Moore, III, Robert Matthew Oswalt, and Jason Woods filed the instant civil action in 2016 against SPC Rentals asserting claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) and Louisiana law. See Record Document 1. SPC Rentals is in the business of performing labor and furnishing services and materials, machinery and supplies in connection with oil and gas drilling, completion and workover operations. See id. at ¶ 7. Under the name Superior Pressure Control, SPC Rentals also provides labor, services, and equipment for oil and gas well pressure control. See id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiffs were employed by SPC Rentals and assigned to the Minden, Louisiana location. See id. at ¶ 1.[1] Plaintiffs operated oil and gas pressure control equipment and provided labor to SPC Rentals' customers. See Id. at ¶ 10. More specifically, Plaintiffs operated machinery, tools, and equipment - primarily well pressure control equipment used in connection with oil and gas drilling, well completion, and work over operations. See id. at ¶ 13. They set up, operated, and took down the equipment used to maintain pressure control on oil and gas wells. See id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiffs were either pump operators or grease operators. See id. at ¶ 15.

         Plaintiffs were salaried. See id. at ¶¶ 25, 27-29. In addition to salary, they were paid a day rate for each day worked at a well site. See id. at ¶¶ 22, 28-29. Plaintiffs were assigned 12 hour-shifts, but allege that they actually worked for a longer period of time each shift. See id. at ¶¶ 18-19. Plaintiffs allege that SPC Rentals knew that they “worked more than 40 hours in a workweek at well site locations because it regularly assigned [them] to work shifts of no less than 13 hours for 4 to 7 days a workweek.” Id. at ¶¶ 21, 23. Plaintiffs assert that SPC Rentals labeled them as “supervisors” to avoid paying overtime compensation. Id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiffs maintain they were not supervisors. See id. at ¶ 26.

         Based upon the above facts, Plaintiffs assert FLSA claims for failure to pay overtime. They also assert a “failure to pay wages timely” claim under La. R.S. 23:633. This Louisiana state law claim is based on SPC Rentals' “failure to make timely payment of [Plaintiffs'] salaries and day rates.” Id. at ¶¶ 39-48.

         A group of Plaintiffs were subjected to “unannounced en masse” drug testing in July 2015. Id. at ¶¶ 50, 53. These Plaintiffs “were corralled [with] approximately 40 employees in a room where [SPC Rentals] collected the samples of the employees' hair, urine and breath samples for substance abuse testing.” Id. at ¶ 51. The drug testing was carried out under the direct supervision of SPC Rentals' Safety Director. See id. at ¶ 53. Plaintiffs allege that “as a direct result of the manner in which the Safety Director conducted the drug testing . . ., [they] were defamed and suffered invasions of privacy.” Id. at ¶ 57.

         SPC Rentals has now moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' Louisiana state law claims. See Record Document 4. It is not seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims asserted pursuant to the FLSA. See Record Document 4-1 at 5.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) changed from the old, more plaintiff-friendly “no set of facts” standard to a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and its progeny. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Under this standard, “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level ... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court generally “may not go outside the pleadings.” Colle v. Brazos County, Texas, 981 F.2d 237, 243 (5th Cir. 1993). Courts must also accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. However, courts do not have to accept legal conclusions as facts. See Id. Courts considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) are only obligated to allow those complaints that are facially plausible under the Iqbal and Twombly standard to survive such a motion. See id. at 678-679, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-1950. If the complaint does not meet this standard, it can be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See id. Such a dismissal ends the case “at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558, 127 S.Ct. at 1966.

         II. La. R.S. 23:633 Claim.

         Plaintiffs assert claims against SPC Rentals “for penalties and damages arising from SPC Rentals' failure to make timely payment of their salaries and day rates, as required by La. R.S. 23:633.” Record Document 20 at ¶ 37. Plaintiffs contend that SPC Rentals failed to pay base pay timely - “the appropriate payments were delayed by several weeks and sometimes by a month or more.” Id. at ¶¶ 41, 43. Plaintiff did not plead a tort claim for untimely wage payments.

         At the outset, the Court holds that neither Section 633(A) not 633(B)[2] grant a private right of action for enforcement. “The amended act does not provide a private right of action to employees but an employer who violates [Section] 633(A) or (B) may be fined and, for subsequent violations, subject to imprisonment.” Rick J. Norman, Louisiana Practice Series, Louisiana Employment Law § 4.22. Additionally, to the extent the Section 633 claims are based on the same allegations that form Plaintiffs' FLSA claims, the claims are duplicative and the FLSA preempts Louisiana state law. See Kidder v. Statewide Transp., Inc., 2013-594 (La.App. 3 Cir. ...


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